Monthly Archives: April 2000

Terence McKenna

I interviewed McKenna in a house in Hamsptead belonging to Rupert Sheldrake. He was the fastest-talking person I have ever met and – unlike Timothy Leary – did not appear to have suffered any mental degeneration as a result of his massive ingestion of drugs.

Later, I saw him guru-like on stage in a night club, surrounded by fans sitting cross-legged and listening intently to his psychedelic message.

He was very generous and gave me lots of collaborative CDs he’d made with various bands and individual musicians.

I wish he could report back from the after-life…

In bed with Susan de Muth: Life is a waking psychedelic dream: Terence McKenna

Wednesday, 18 May 1994
On six very special nights a year I unplug the telephone, lock the front door, turn off the lights, get into bed and, alone in silent darkness, take a huge amount – an heroic dose – of psilocybin mushrooms.

For me this is not an hedonic activity. My mind-brain system is a laboratory where I explore the great mystery of life. The boundaries that define the waking world are dissolved. I become a psychonaut of inner-space, entering complex experiences beyond language, bizarre yet beautiful landscapes never seen before. People who say that adventure has fled from modern life have no idea what is going on]

After about four hours I get up, exhausted, and make myself something to eat. Then I fall into a deep sleep, way beyond normal dreaming, and wake with memories and data that will keep me inspired for weeks.

For a few days after these ‘trips’ my dream-life is diminished. Dreaming releases a kind of pressure in the unconscious that has been thoroughly removed during the psychedelic experience to which I believe it is closely related. Small quantities of DMT (dimethyltryptamine, a naturally occurring, powerful hallucinogen) are produced in the human body, peaking between 3 and 4am, when rapid eye movement sleep is at its height.

Normal dreams are not a disappointment to me. I’m fascinated by all kinds of mental activity, including those day- residue dreams where you’ve forgotten to buy the milk . . . and nightmares, too. I take them seriously enough to have kept a dream journal for 20 years. Each night we are trying to rediscover something we find and lose every 24 hours: when we dream we are plunged into some primordial pool of imagery.

I often dream of places I haven’t been: a futuristic city I call Hong- Kong Morocco; Tasmania. There are also hundreds of strangers in my dreams to whom I relate as if I know them. This is very much like my life: I meet so many people since I’ve become some kind of minor icon on the underground scene that I’m often in situations where I vaguely recognise someone but have no idea who they are.

I don’t have any trouble sleeping, which is a shame because I’m thrilled by the prospect of insomnia. I once went for nine days and nights without sleep in the Amazonian jungle and found it an ecstatic experience. At night I’d walk deep into the jungle or sit somewhere and just contemplate: I found I could follow four or five trains of thought simultaneously and never lose the thread.

I have never been scared in the night, even if I have an alarming psychedelic experience. When we were children my mother used to put us to bed and say, ‘now you’re going into the friendly darkness’ and I have always seen it that way. I have a house in Hawaii and I love the nights there. It is always warm enough to walk out and star-gaze. Then there is time for thinking – my greatest passion.

I am very reclusive and unsociable. My idea of a great evening is a 200- year-old book and a snifter of brandy. I recently divorced after 15 years of marriage and enjoy being alone, yet I end up at a surprising number of parties. This new youth culture that’s arising has a nostalgia for the Sixties and looks to people like me for direction.

I don’t envisage giving up drugs at any point. The older I get, the more like a psychedelic waking dream everyday life appears to me.

Terence McKenna’s latest book, ‘True Hallucinations’, is published by Rider Books at pounds 14.99. A new CD, ‘Dream Matrix Telemetry’, is available on Delerium records.

Terence McKenna 47, is an ‘ethnobotanist and psychedelic philosopher’. He lives in northern California, where he writes books, gives lectures and makes records about his experiences with hallucinogenic drugs.

(Photograph omitted)

Trevor McDonald

In Bed With Trevor MacDonald

This was the second of my In Bed With… interviews and I was really nervous when I went to ITN to interview Trevor MacDonald – ah, well, I was young and inexperienced back then. He was very kind and obliged with a very revealing interview, inviting me back a week later to watch the News at Ten being made.

Nightmares and grim reality: Susan de
Muth in bed with Trevor McDonald – Our
series on nocturnal habits continues with
the dreams and diversions of the News at
Ten anchorman
Monday, 2 August 1993
Trevor McDonald, 53, is the anchorman for ‘News at Ten’. He is married to Josephine, whom he
met at ITN. They have one child, Jamie, four, and live in London.
‘I HAVE a recurring nightmare that I can hear the bongs of News at Ten and I’m stuck in a traffic
jam, clawing at the car seats. I dream constantly and nearly all my dreams are anxiety dreams.
This would certainly surprise people who know me well. Everyone thinks I have a cool,
unflappable exterior, but I’m not an inwardly calm person.
‘When I’ve been reporting from abroad, for example in South Africa or Iraq, I have often been so
distressed by the horrible things I’ve seen and heard that when I get back to the hotel I have
great difficulty sleeping. Then you also feel so absolutely lonely. I try to cut myself off from the
reality of such places by listening to music. I’ve often rigged up a little sound system in my hotel
room. I need to hear voices, and the voices I’d rather hear are those raised in song and in some
sort of harmony. Any music will do, pop or classical.
‘In a Belfast hotel some years ago, a young woman, for reasons best known to herself, smuggled
herself into my room one night. Perhaps I was a bit of a coward, but I made my excuses as
politely as I could and left. Now that doesn’t happen enough these days . . . they’ve stopped
doing it] I suppose there are what you could call ‘news groupies’, but they go after the younger,
more eligible people, not ageing, paunchy people like me.
‘I do less reporting since the anchorage and I like to be in at ITN by 11.30am. You can’t be
semi-detatched if you want to have any say in how it’s done. Once News at Ten is over I try not
to hang around and chat – I do that all day – and I am normally home by 11.15pm.
‘My wife is usually asleep when I get in, but it’s comforting to be aware of people’s presence in
the house. Our paths hardly cross, actually – we go our separate ways at breakfast time and have
very little conversation. We do spend weekends together. I’m still not sure if this is a recipe for a
happy marriage or an unhappy one.
‘I wind down with some difficulty. Letting yourself relax is a very conscious mental and physical
process. It takes longer if the news has been particularly exhilarating or, worse, disturbing. At
the moment, for example, I am infuriated by what is happening in Bosnia. We are in the 20th
century, and killing people in this way, setting out brutally and systematically to murder each
other, is almost antediluvian.
‘A good stiff drink helps, though I haven’t taken a medical opinion on whether that’s the most
healthy remedy. Sometimes there’s the odd bottle of champagne left from the weekend and I’ll
finish that off, otherwise it’s the only time I drink spirits. Like all night workers, I have to be
very careful not to crash around and wake up all the world.
Nightmares and grim reality: Susan de Muth in bed with Trevor McDona……
1 of 2 24/09/2012 16:39
‘Reading is the surest way to invoke that wonderful, overwhelming, physical lassitude and to set
your mind on another plane. I’ve just finished Alan Clark’s diaries. An absolutely appalling
human being, but he writes like a dream – hilarious. I never miss an opportunity to read. I have
books in the loo.
‘The most tiring part of my life, actually, is that I invariably get up every morning a little before
eight to make my son, Jamie, his breakfast and have a chat with him before he goes off to
nursery school. Otherwise I’d never see him, and I couldn’t afford to do that. But it does make a
long day.
‘Until recently I was also writing a book about the more interesting (or boring) things I’ve done
in the course of my career. I found I was unable to write at home, so I would go into ITN a
couple of hours earlier and bash away in my office. During that period I used to come home
absolutely buggered.
‘By the time I crawl into bed, wearing nothing more than a splash of after-shave (it’s nice to
sleep unencumbered), I’m really longing for the ‘sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care . .
. sore labour’s bath’, and I never get enough. I am told I snore, which must be annoying, but I
do not, to the best of my knowledge, divulge state secrets . . . nor the secrets of other women
who may have wandered into my bed.’
Trevor McDonald’s book ‘Fortunate Circumstances’ will be published on 21 October by
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 16.99.
(Photograph omitted)
Nightmares and grim reality: Susan de Muth in bed with Trevor McDona……
2 of 2 24/09/2012 16:39